Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 16, 2015 - Cove Creek, Pisgah National Forest

Today's forecast included a lot of sunshine, so we decided to do a hike with a view.  We didn't want to fight the crowds on the Parkway, so we both agreed on the hike to Pilot Rock off of Yellow Gap Rd (FR1206).  We did this hike last year also, but it has a great view and we figured there wouldn't be that people on the trail.  The drive up US276 from Brevard was very colorful, but there are still a lot of trees that haven't changed yet.  The section of road that goes past Pink Beds was especially colorful with a lot of reds in the mix.  Yellow Gap Rd was quite colorful also, but at 3 miles in we found the road gated just past the right turn for FR476.  There had been reports of Facebook about the road being closed, but nothing on the Forest Service web site.

So again we needed a Plan B.  The first part of that plan was to stop at the Barnett Branch Trail which crosses Yellow Gap Rd 1.3 miles from 276.  There's a small waterfall about 10-15 minutes up the trail that we wanted to check out.  The hike to the falls was nice with a lot of yellows along the trail, but the waterfall wasn't flowing like we thought it would be.  We snapped some pictures anyway, then headed back to the vehicle.

part of the waterfall along the Barnett Branch Trail

Instead of the hike to a view idea, Cindy suggested that we hike to the waterfalls in Cove Creek just past the fish hatchery on FR475.  That sounded good to me, so we headed that way.  On the way back down 276, I wanted to pull over at the cascades along Looking Glass Creek past Sliding Rock.  There was some nice fall color mixed in with the deep green rhododendron, but also some very bright sunshine.  There are also a couple of picnic tables here and it's worth a stop any time of the year.
cascade on Looking Glass Creek

It was around noon and by now there were a lot of people out and about.  Moore Cove Falls parking had a lot of vehicles as did Looking Glass Falls.  The parking for Looking Glass Rock along 475 was a zoo.  The viewing area from the rock isn't that big and I can't imagine the hike being that much fun with that many people.  As we passed the fish hatchery, we glanced up at John Rock and weren't really impressed with the colors up there.  The parking area for Cove Creek isn't very big, but we managed to get a spot.  There's a big mountain bike rally there this week end and I expect the area to be packed.  The hike up the road towards the camp sites showed some nice colors in the canopy. We decided to save the cascades on the right for the way back and headed towards the small waterfall on the right just past the 1st group camp area.

small waterfall in Cove Creek campground

After enjoying this spot for a bit, we headed up the trail towards Cove Creek Falls.  Again, there was some nice fall color in the canopy, but still a lot of green also.  We were pleasantly surprised to find nice color above Cove Creek Falls.  To get a good view of the falls, you have to wade across the creek.  We had both put sandals in the car, but almost forgot them when we headed out on the hike.  Luckily, Cindy remembered just as we were leaving the vehicle.  The sun was making shooting the waterfall difficult, but it was lighting up the trees nicely and the blue sky above the waterfall looked good too. We spent quite a bit of time here before heading back.

Cove Creek Falls

By now there were people setting up in the campground for the big bike event. We did stop at the cascades along Cove Creek for a few shots before heading back home.

cascade along Cove Creek

We may or may not hit the trail this week end.  We have a several day camping trip planned for next week in the Wilson Creek area that we need to prepare for.  

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